I have been working with Neil Chambers on the story of how Ian Direach got the Blue Falcon, and it has been coming together really well. The music that Neil brings with his pipes beautifully sets the atmosphere for the story and at certain times, as I am telling, it sends shivers down my spine. Its a great story too, set way back in time in the highlands and islands of Western Scotland, its and adventure full of magic and unexpected, larger than life characters. Its fun to tell and strangely uplifting. Neil and I will be telling an extract of the story at an event at the Commercial Union Building on Percy St on Sunday night. This will be its first outing, only the start though. The first full telling will be at the Hearth in Horsley on the 17th of May and I am really looking forward to that.
I am also really looking forward to the 10th of May when I will be in Carlisle and will be telling stories with my old friend and colleague, Ian Douglas. Apart from a short spell on a Saturday afternoon last August, at the Solway Fest, I can't remember the last time Ian and I shared a stage. Some time in the mid 1990s I think. So, a long road travelled in the meantime and promising new adventures ahead. Ian and I will be meeting on Monday to discuss the stories we might b
As I look out over the rooftops of Newcastle City Centre from my office on the sixth floor, watching the snow drift past my window in sporadic flurries, I think about the warmer weather that's on its way (he says hopefully), and take this opportunity to tell you about exciting things that are happening with the Storycafé. I recently met up with my old friend and fellow storyteller Ian Douglas, who lives in Cumbria, and we discussed the possibility of taking the Storycafé over the Pennines and into the west. Well, subsequently, we have had a fruitful meeting with Holly, who runs the Source Collective Cafe in Carlisle and the Upfront Gallery near Penrith. We have organised the first 2 Storycafé evenings there. They will be on 10th of May, Carlisle, and 11th May, Penrith, and are an exciting collaboration. The evenings will be hosted by myself and Ian who, I am sure, I will be meeting again soon to decide what those evenings will be like. In the meantime, below is a picture of Holly and Max, who run the Source Collective. I am looking forward to these ventures over the hills and meeting new audiences and tasting new foods. I can't write a review of the cafés yet as I haven't tried their wares. Speak later.
What a great night at Tea Sutra tonight. A lovely audience and some wonderful tunes and songs from Josh and his friend James. I loved telling my stories tonight, they seemed to flow so well.
I am discovering, since I got my Hot Desk in the new office, the truth behind the saying that being organised is very much like spinning plates, (cliché I know) Deciding which ones need to be kept going the fastest and watching out for the ones that are about to fall off the stick. Suddenly the room is full of such plates and prioritising is a very tricky game. What with applications to the Arts Council for funding for the cafe, promoting the cafe and learning new stories, self promotion to storytelling clubs and festivals around the country, and indeed abroad and keeping a profile on social media, learning about deeper levels and qualities of storytelling and having a life to name but a few! Today I am learning new stories for this Fridays Cafe at Tea Sutra, whilst planning a workshop for a school in Anfield Plane before driving down to Derby to tell stories at the Flying Donkeys storytelling club. Tomorrow, I visit Carlisle where I will be having a meeting with Storyteller Ian Douglas and the Source Collective Cafe, about setting about setting a cafe up over there and on Friday it is the Storycafé itself. Its all very exciting but its all go.
Meet Yoshi and Akupa who run Tea Sutra. I was with them the other day to deliver some posters and flyers for next weeks cafe. I have to say, I was caught on the hop with this one. Now that there are more frequent events, I am having to remember to get things organised in plenty of time. Having said that, I think it is a fine balance with the timing of publicity, too soon and people forget, too late and they have arranged to do something different that night. I have been talking with Josh Green, Malcolm Greens son, and he has agreed to come and play some music at the cafe this Friday. I think Akupa will be telling a story too. I look forward to hearing that.
Anyway, I am sitting in Newcastle Airport and waiting for a delayed flight to Dublin. I thought I would take the time to update the blog page for the Storycafé. The last cafe at Jack Sprats was a great night with myself and Pat Renton telling stories and Neil playing some lovely tunes on the pipes. The food and the atmosphere was lovely again, as usual. The sad news is that Jan, who owns the cafe, has decided to sell up and move on. I don't know how much longer she will be there and the signs go up next week. Without Jan and her "I'll give anything a go if it brings people in" attitude, the Storycafé would probably never have got going.
Well, there is the signal to go to the gate. A weekend in Dublin, I look forward to it. I look forward to seeing you at one of our cafe's too.
Well, that's me back from a trip to London then. My friend Ian, who, along with Dawn, put me up on Friday night, is really excited about the Storycafé and wants me to come and do some in London. Lets get the northern cafes up and running first aye, and then, if it feels right, look south. Still, love the enthusiasm. Had a great night sitting up till the very early hours chatting about life and the arts and everything. Nice to be in London again, nice to be home too. So, I arrive back in Newcastle and am immediately back into organising the cafes. This Friday, Jack Sprats with me and, hopefully, Pat Renton telling tales in celebration of St Valentines. First thing, as I get off the train, I am met by Neil Chambers, player of the Uilleann pipes. We head off for a cup of tea where we discuss the format for Friday night and plan some story making event for the future where I may tell an epic journey whilst accompanied by the haunting sound of the pipes. Of course, I may not. It all depends on how well we work together and we will find that out at the weekend. In the meantime, here is a little vid of him playing at in the Windows Arcade. Hope to see you there on Friday.
I love the way the world works sometimes. I just popped in to Tea Sutra to discuss when we might run another cafe there and we ended up booking a cafe every 3 months for the next year and a half. That is scarily organised. Then, as I was walking back to the office, I bumped into Neil the piper, people in Newcastle will see him busking his Uilleann pipes on Northumberland street. "Lets have a coffee" says he and so we did and as we did so, we decided to try and work on a story together, and now, he will be playing some tunes on his pipes at Jack Sprats next Friday where there will be stories of love and, that kind of thing, to help celebrate St Valentine's day. Cant wait.
It was a great night at the Hearth on Friday. I really enjoyed telling my stories to a warm and receptive audience. I was accompanied by three musicians for the evening. Jane, Sophie and Scott, (who had travelled down from Coldstream to do the gig, not sure when they get the chance to practice, living that far apart) who were absolutely fabulous. I have included a little video of them playing, (sorry for the poor quality of my filming but it was the best I could do at the time). I was stunned by their talent and confidence, I think they are 15 years old. I already know Jane and have spoken to her on many occasions but she took my breath away when she sang the ballad, 'The flower of Northumberland'. I had no idea she had such an a beautiful singing voice. I hope that they will come back and share another evening with me in the future. I have already asked if they will come and do a set or two at our summer fair.
Hello and welcome to the Storycafé Blog. Two days ago, Monday I guess, as I was dropping off some posters and flyers at Jack Sprats, I got talking to one of the staff about websites and the business of keeping them up to date, when some guy sitting at one of the tables, who overheard the conversation, said, "I use Weebly, its really easy and really effective". I had a quick look whilst he was talking to me and very quickly saw that it was really easy and user friendly. I then spent two days scrambling away at the laptop, probably instead of working on new stories, and here we are. Out of all the free website creation companies that I have tried, this, I think, is by far the best.
Anyway, this is not meant as huge advert for Weebly, it is meant to be a chance for me to get going with blogging. It is too easy to sit here, just thinking and worrying about what I might say, I thought it best to just get on with it, so here it is. I leave it at that for now and get on with working out what stories I am going to tell on Friday at the Hearth. I hope to say a lot more as time goes by. The picture is of me sitting at a cafe table in sunny Croatia thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have a Storycafé here, amongst other things.